Di Peng recreates dementia with sense-distorting helmet

Di Peng recreates the experience of dementia with sense-distorting helmet

Graduate shows 2016: this Dementia Simulator headset designed by Central Saint Martins graduate Di Peng lets wearers experience symptoms of the disease for themselves (+ movie).

The helmet affects each of the senses, in an attempt to replicate many of the challenges faced by dementia sufferers.

The translucent, egg-shaped device sits over the wearer's entire head, and includes a mouthpiece, earpiece and screen that covers the eyes.

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Distorted sounds and critical comments are played back to mimic the auditory hallucinations experienced by those with dementia, while the mouthpiece makes it hard for the wearer to speak by muting certain words.

The helmet's visor affects vision by blurring out the faces of those nearby – a reminder of the challenges faced by patients that struggle to recognise individuals.

"As a research tool, Dementia Stimulator is an open-ended design that welcomes the dialogue of further probing into the ageing population that we have never experienced before," said Peng, who completed the project during a masters in industrial design.

"There is no one solution for a complex problem, but only deeper understanding of the problem will get us closer to the solution."

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Peng created the helmet as a way to help non-sufferers experience aspects of the disease, thereby increasing empathy and helping them care for patients or relatives with dementia.

"In order to weaken the stereotypes and misconceptions towards dementia patients, I believe we could use simulation and pretence as a method to further understand their inner world," he said.

"Mostly, it enables the stakeholders around dementia patients, usually their family members or caretakers, to better understand dementia beyond what modern medicine could explain."

Other projects created by Central Saint Martin graduates this year include a device that could perform the duties an intern would usually do in a design office, and a conceptual range of accessories made from skin grown from the late Alexander McQueen's DNA.